Lake Garda is Italy’s largest glacial-carved lake, famous for its crystal blue waters and charming lakeside villages. Surrounded by three regions – Lombardy’s rolling hills, Trentino-Alto Adige’s alpine mountains and Veneto’s aristocratic estates – the area offers an abundance of activities, including vineyard tours and wine tasting.
The morainic hills that flank the lake are a salmagundi of soils, and each has its own signature. In fact, grapes have been grown on these soils since the Bronze Age. Archaeologists have found grape seeds in prehistoric sites at Peschiera, Pacengo and Cisano, and wine production continued throughout the Roman era in the rural villas that once dotted the lake shore.
To the south of the lake you’ll find the Lugana white wine zone, while to the east is Valpolicella and, just past Verona, Soave. In the Bardolino zone you’ll find wines made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, and there are several different styles of the red wine – classico, novello and chiaretto. The growers claim that the success of this full-bodied wine is due to the influence of Saint Zeno, whose face appears on many bottles.
Tucked away on the southwestern shore of the lake is the Bianco di Custoza DOC, a white-wine only DOC that overlaps with the Bardolino zone quite a bit. This refreshing wine displays a delicate scent of small fruits (strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants) and crisp apples, with subtle nuances of chlorophyll and wild flowers. It pairs beautifully with the local cuisine, such as the traditional tortellini di Valeggio, the sfogliatto d’Alma and braised guancette di Sona. wine lake garda